Two Russian pilots kidnapped in Sudan’s Darfur
Two Russian pilots have been abducted by unknown individuals in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, Russia’s embassy in the African country says.
“Unfortunately, we can confirm that two Russian pilots have been kidnapped in Zalingei in the Darfur province on January 29,” the spokesman for the Russian embassy in Sudan, Artur Safukov, told AFP on Tuesday.
He declined to give more information about the incident, but said efforts were underway to secure the release of the pilots.
Russian media reported that the two men were employers of Russia’s UTair company, who were in Sudan on a contract for the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
Meanwhile, the UTair Airlines confirmed the abduction of the two employees in Darfur.
In a report, the company said a UNAMID mini-bus was trapped by six vehicles and its passengers were taken away to an unknown location.
Darfur has been the scene of deadly violence since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the central government in Khartoum. There has also been tribal fighting in the region.
The United Nations estimates that the violence in Darfur has so far killed over 300,000 people and displaced around two million.
The UN mission was launched in 2007 in a bid to protect civilians, secure aid and restore stability to the restive region.
Relations between Khartoum and the UNAMID have become rocky since the mission tried to launch an investigation into a report from a local news website that claimed Sudanese soldiers raped 200 women in the village of Tabit on October 31, 2014.
The UNAMID said Sudanese soldiers blocked its access to Tabit for the first time when it reached the village on November 9.